Tires are not just made from rubber. They are made with specific internal constructions utilizing versatile materials to ensure their performing and driving durability. However, when it comes to the way the plies are placed in the tire’s construction, there are two main types of tires: radial ply and bias ply tires.
Today, we will take a closer look at what a radial tire is, all the advantages and disadvantages of radial tires and why they are used instead of bias ply tires.
What are Radial Tires?
Radial tires have become the most common construction type for passenger vehicles, SUVs and light trucks. These tires provide the needed performing and durability these vehicles require to ensure a safer driving experience.
Radial tires feature a radial ply placement. In other words, the construction sports plies which are placed radially from one tire sidewall to the other on top of the steel belts. This structure enables the tire to optimize their sidewall flexibility, heat build-up prevention and to extend the overall tread life.
The direction of the radial tire’s ply placement optimizes the structural flexibility throughout the tire’s performance, allowing the tire to safer perform and to minimize the rolling resistance. The lesser rolling resistance allows the tire to ease the pressure off the tire, significantly reducing the possibility of heat build-up along the tread area. This not only helps to decrease the vehicle’s fuel consumption levels, it also minimizes the tread wear rate during the drive.
Furthermore, the radial ply structure enables the tire to optimize the road contact during the drive. In this manner, the tire helps to offer a comfortable performance, when the tire is mounted on passenger vehicles.
Radial vs Bias Ply Tires
As we have mentioned before, most tires come with radial or bias ply structures. So, what is the difference between them?
The main dissimilarity between radial and bias ply tires is the placement of the plies in the tire’s structure. While radial tires place their plies from one tire sidewall to the other, bias ply tires feature diagonally added plies in the structure. Let’s take a look at how this ply placement affects the tire’s performance.
The radial tire structure greatly reinforces the tire’s durability. The radial ply placement ensures that the tire’s ideal shape is maintained throughout the performance. As the tire does not deform under the stress, it is able to boost its load capacity.
Furthermore, the radial plies reinforced the tread center by ensuring its surface contact at all times. This enables the tire to minimize the pressure affecting the tire, ensuring less stress build-up along the tread area. This structural design allows the tire to reduce the rolling resistance while the tires are in motion.
On the other hand, bias ply tires sport diagonally placed plies in its internal structure. The diagonal ply placement used to be the norm for tire manufacturers. However, with the rise of radial tires, bias ply models were pushed to the background.
This type of tire is still manufactured, they are just not made for passenger cars, etc. Nowadays, these tires are mainly manufactured for special trailers. Such trailers need a smoother performance which is provided by the bias ply structure throughout its performance.
Unfortunately, bias ply tires do not offer good sidewall flexibility and they allow heat build-up during the drive. As a result, the bias plies strengthen the sidewalls of the tires, increasing the load durability. Still, these tires are not able to optimize the heat durability, which results in a higher fuel consumption.
All in all, bias ply tires are not a good fit for everyday driving anymore. The needs of such vehicles are too high for bias ply tires to handle efficiently. Due to this, radial tires have taken over the original equipment and replacement tire market.
You can learn more about diferences between bias and radial tires in another article we made on the topic.
The Advantages of Radial Tires
As we have already mentioned the advantages of radial tires, we will just detail their pros and cons in this section. Radial tires have become the norm on the tire market as they optimize the vehicle’s performing capability. Let’s see why they have won the battle against bias ply tires.
The radial structure allows the tire to maintain the ideal tire shape under the load and driving stress which optimizes the road contact. The radial tire construction ensures less rolling resistance to affect the tire’s tread center. This, along with the flexible sidewalls, allows the tire to prevent driving force build-up along the tread area, which helps to decrease the vehicle’s fuel intake and CO2 emissions. Radial tires guarantee the tire’s fuel efficient driving experience.
Lengthened Tread Life
The radial ply placement in the tire’s internal structure strengthens the tread life. The heat resistant performance minimizes the overall tread wear rate by actively avoiding irregular and accelerated treadwear. A radial tire construction also maintains the surface contact while the tires are in motion. This enables even pressure distribution along the tread area throughout the ride, actively preventing uneven wear formations. The ensured slower and even wear enables radial tires to have longer tread lives compared to bias ply tires.
A tire’s load and driving durability depends on the strength of its construction. Steel belts help to maintain the ideal tire shape under the pressure. The tire structure is further reinforced with the radial ply placement, actively preventing the tire’s deformation. Furthermore, the radial ply structure allows it to strengthen the construction with a better bead filler. In this manner, the tire is able to securely handle heavy loads with ease.
Radial tires are easier to control. The direction of the optimal ply placement of the radial plies enables the tire to closely follow the road surface, which improves the controllability. The tread center’s road contact boosts the steering responsiveness and the driving stability. The plies of the tire ensure the driver’s better control over the vehicle.
As radial tires feature stronger shoulder structures, they offer better performing durability. The thicker shoulders and tire sidewalls enable the tire to closely follow the road surface, preventing driving shock and damage from shortening the tread life and the model’s overall usability.
The Disadvantages of the Radial Tire Structure
With pros there must also come cons. The biggest issue with radial tires is what to do when they are damaged.
Their radial ply structure does not allow safe damage repair on the tire’s sidewall. In this manner, radial tires can only be repaired on their tread center. Radial tires should not be repaired on the shoulder ribs and the sidewalls, as such patches will not hold.
Moreover, repairing radial tires with a patch is harder compared to bias ply tires. To ensure that radial tires are properly and safely repaired, they should be taken to a tire shop. Incorrectly patched tires can be just as dangerous damaged tires.
Modern, state-of-the-art technologies are used by tire manufacturers to ensure their products perform in a secure manner. New techniques are put into use year after year, which makes tire manufacturing safer and more productive. Furthermore, these technologies promote secure performance capabilities in all vehicles, as the consumers’ safety is the number one priority for tire manufacturers.
There is a good reason why radial tires have become the norm in modern days. The radial tire structure has become the norm to ensure the vehicle’s safer performance. Not only do radial tires offer a secure drive, less heat build-up, a flexible sidewall structure, they also greatly increase the usability and the model’s overall controllability.
Radial tires promote exceptional driving safety levels, by significantly optimizing the overall performance and durability. As a result, the tire guarantees the driver’s better control over the vehicle while the tires are in motion.